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A vivid, highly evocative memoir of one of the reigning icons of folk music, highlighting the decade of the ’60s, when hits like “Both Sides Now” catapulted her to international fame.   Sweet Judy Blue Eyes is the deeply personal, honest, and revealing memoir of folk legend and relentlessly creative spirit Judy Collins. In it, she talks about her alcoholism, her lasting lov A vivid, highly evocative memoir of one of the reigning icons of folk music, highlighting the decade of the ’60s, when hits like “Both Sides Now” catapulted her to international fame.   Sweet Judy Blue Eyes is the deeply personal, honest, and revealing memoir of folk legend and relentlessly creative spirit Judy Collins. In it, she talks about her alcoholism, her lasting love affair with Stephen Stills, her friendships with Joan Baez, Richard and Mimi Fariña, David Crosby, and Leonard Cohen and, above all, the music that helped define a decade and a generation’s sound track.       Sweet Judy Blue Eyes invites the reader into the parties that peppered Laurel Canyon and into the recording studio so we see how cuts evolved take after take, while it sets an array of amazing musical talent against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent decades of twentieth-century America.      Beautifully written, richly textured, and sharply insightful, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes is an unforgettable chronicle of the folk renaissance in America.


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A vivid, highly evocative memoir of one of the reigning icons of folk music, highlighting the decade of the ’60s, when hits like “Both Sides Now” catapulted her to international fame.   Sweet Judy Blue Eyes is the deeply personal, honest, and revealing memoir of folk legend and relentlessly creative spirit Judy Collins. In it, she talks about her alcoholism, her lasting lov A vivid, highly evocative memoir of one of the reigning icons of folk music, highlighting the decade of the ’60s, when hits like “Both Sides Now” catapulted her to international fame.   Sweet Judy Blue Eyes is the deeply personal, honest, and revealing memoir of folk legend and relentlessly creative spirit Judy Collins. In it, she talks about her alcoholism, her lasting love affair with Stephen Stills, her friendships with Joan Baez, Richard and Mimi Fariña, David Crosby, and Leonard Cohen and, above all, the music that helped define a decade and a generation’s sound track.       Sweet Judy Blue Eyes invites the reader into the parties that peppered Laurel Canyon and into the recording studio so we see how cuts evolved take after take, while it sets an array of amazing musical talent against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent decades of twentieth-century America.      Beautifully written, richly textured, and sharply insightful, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes is an unforgettable chronicle of the folk renaissance in America.

30 review for Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bob Mustin

    This book begins and ends with Stephen Stills, one of Collins' lovers during the `sixties; certainly a tryst that remains most vivid in her mind. And in between she tells us of her youth in Colorado, her family, including her talented, blind father, and her attraction to folk music. She chronicles her ailments: polio, and a growing depression that resulted in an early attempt at suicide. But mostly the book is about her life within the music business of the `sixties and `seventies, her evolution This book begins and ends with Stephen Stills, one of Collins' lovers during the `sixties; certainly a tryst that remains most vivid in her mind. And in between she tells us of her youth in Colorado, her family, including her talented, blind father, and her attraction to folk music. She chronicles her ailments: polio, and a growing depression that resulted in an early attempt at suicide. But mostly the book is about her life within the music business of the `sixties and `seventies, her evolution as a folk singer, which eventually expanded to include show tunes and various strains of pop music of that era. She began to write her own material during the `sixties, but she was mainly known then, as now, as an interpreter of other songwriters' music. But there's much more here than simply her life in music - or rather the manner in which the music exposed her to much more than the entertainment business. She experimented sexually, was involved in therapy for years, and eventually came to the forefront of the women's movement. During this time, she drank increasingly, until it began to affect her career, something she's since conquered. Her writing here is casual, almost conversational, and she borders on gossip at times, certainly an easy thing to do when considering the peccadilloes of that era's musical luminaries. But she has clearly made an attempt to see her decades in music, and the people about her during those years, in an objective manner, and she writes about it all in a sweet manner. It's a confessional that doesn't drag you into personal morass as much as present you with a from-years-later perspective on her life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia Stocker

    When I was a kid I loved Judy Collins... probably I still would today, but I haven't listened to her music in a while. I credit my own ability to sing to listening to Collins and singing along with her records. I learned a lot that way. This book is mostly a tour of who she met when, where she performed, what drugs people were using and who slept with whom, including her own long list of lovers. That part really didn't interest me. Actually it made me feel grateful, yet again, that I was only on When I was a kid I loved Judy Collins... probably I still would today, but I haven't listened to her music in a while. I credit my own ability to sing to listening to Collins and singing along with her records. I learned a lot that way. This book is mostly a tour of who she met when, where she performed, what drugs people were using and who slept with whom, including her own long list of lovers. That part really didn't interest me. Actually it made me feel grateful, yet again, that I was only on the edges of the 60s mayhem. I don't feel I missed much by having my own calm and sober lifestyle. The part of the book that I found interesting was her candid discussion of her addiction to alcohol, especially in one of the final chapters of the book. That touched my heart more, as it seemed read and heart-felt. Also I got a good quotation from this book to use on March 18, which is Music Sunday at my church: "I have been eternally grateful for the gift of music. There are times when the sounds of the voices in my audiences, singing along with the old sweet melodies, are, for me, all that stand between despair and joy. When we sing, we can do anything -- change the world, bring peace, be our best selves at last. When we sing, our hearts can lift and fly, over the troubled waters and over the years." That's certainly true for me and perhaps one of the reasons I like church so much -- it's one of the last places where people regularly sing together.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    The opening notes are unmistakable. The sweet chords in E pour forth from Stephen Stills's guitar, sounding like early morning California sunshine feels: warm and flirtatious, dancing on an ocean breeze as it kisses you awake. It has always been one of my favorite songs. It never fails to transport me to a time I never knew, a place that now fades into American mythology: California, late 1960's. It is "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", first performed by Crosby, Stills and Nash on August 18, 1969 at Yasg The opening notes are unmistakable. The sweet chords in E pour forth from Stephen Stills's guitar, sounding like early morning California sunshine feels: warm and flirtatious, dancing on an ocean breeze as it kisses you awake. It has always been one of my favorite songs. It never fails to transport me to a time I never knew, a place that now fades into American mythology: California, late 1960's. It is "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", first performed by Crosby, Stills and Nash on August 18, 1969 at Yasgur’s farm, two weeks before I was born. Each time I hear this song, I feel I missed the best part of a generation. So, how could I not read Judy Collins’s memoir “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes”? Stephen Stills vividly captured the passion and pain of their love affair in his joyful, yet plaintive epic song. Judy was his inspiration, his muse, the older woman who broke his heart. Judy Collins’s music conjures up different images. Her voice takes me to the milky, muted greens and blues of my childhood in Oregon and on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in the early – late 70’s. She is pop radio on rainy Saturday afternoons as I played with my stuffed animals while my mom sat at her sewing machine. She is naptime and tomato soup. Comfort tinged with melancholy. “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes” captivated me less for Ms. Collins's story, which often felt forced and stilted, than for a rich glimpse into an era I, and many others, have idealized. Ms. Collins, who was 71 when she penned this memoir, does a simple and lovely job of laying out her early years as a budding folk singer, first in Colorado, then Chicago, before breaking into the amazing folk scene in New York in the early 60’s. Other reviewers accuse her of name-dropping, but how could she not? She was hanging out with and performing alongside Joan and Mimi Baez, Peter Yarrow, Bob Dylan, Marshall Brickman, the Clancy Brothers, John Phillips- and this is the very early '60’s - '60-'64 - years before the Summer of Love. These were small clubs in Greenwich Village, before Dylan’s plugged-in performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival that heralded a new era in music: folk-rock. Judy was at the vanguard of the folk music revival, breathing new life into traditional and classic folks songs, and wrapping her rich, mellow soprano around new compositions by Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Sandy Denny and Leonard Cohen, among many others. She was also at the forefront of the hard living, substance-abusing lifestyle that characterized so much of the 60's, and which killed many of its brightest hopes. It was lifestyle that nearly killed Judy Collins. Her father was an alcoholic; Judy fell victim to the disease very early in her career. She became pregnant and married her first husband, Peter Taylor, in 1958, when she was 19. The marriage lasted until 1965, just as her career began to soar and her partying turned to alcohol abuse. Her son Clark committed suicide in 1992 at the age of 33, after a terrible battle with addiction and clinical depression, conditions that Judy fought from young adulthood until she sought treatment for her addiction to alcohol in 1978. Sweet Judy Blue Eyes tells two stories: one of a long, vibrant, dynamic moment in time and one of Judy’s experiences within this era. Most of the period she covers in her memoir she spent in an increasingly thick haze of intoxication. By the time she met and fell in love with Stephen Stills in 1967, she was drinking to keep sober. Collins tells her story so brightly, in such a matter-of-fact, linear style, it’s hard to fathom the depth of her self-destruction. There were suicide attempts, deep depressions, a divorce and custody battle and countless love affairs. Yet, inexplicably - because we never really get inside Judy’s head - her star continued to rise. Starting in 1961, she recorded an album a year until 1978 (then started again in ’79). She toured constantly, until the alcohol fried her vocal chords and she had surgery in 1977. I have to think that the smooth reserve she displays while describing two decades spent on a physical and emotional roller-coaster is because she can hardly remember much of it. It may also be that the years and the happiness she has found since meeting her now-husband have softened her and calmed her need to tell-all; she certainly paints her comrades in the softest of colors, touching only lightly on her estrangement with Joni Mitchell and soft-pedaling the very public, volatile relationship between Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, not to mention her despair at failing her son. Judy Collins's story has the happiest of endings, despite the immense pain of her losses. She met her second husband in 1978, the day before she entered a rehabilitation facility in Pennsylvania. She has been sober and with Louis Nelson since; they married in 1996. She and Stephen remained friends, performing together on her 2010 album, Paradise. She is arguably a stronger, better singer now than she was forty years ago; only her dear friend Joan Baez can make the same claim. I stopped several times while reading this book (which took but a weekend) to look up names on my iPhone: I read about the life of Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan’s long-time, pixie-faced girlfriend, whom he left for Joan Baez in the mid-60s; about Joan’s ethereal sister Mimi and her charismatic husband Richard Farina; I found an amazing YouTube video of Joan and Mimi performing life at Sing Sing prison in 1972- oh my god, they were so beautiful (Joan still is, sadly, Mimi died in 2001 of cancer); I watched an interview with Joan Baez talking about the twisted genius of Bob Dylan; I learned that Stacy Keach was once considered the preeminent American interpreter of Shakespeare on the stage. I knew him only as Mike Hammer! I would give this book 3 stars for writing, for Judy's honesty and reflection; 5 stars for reviving my interest in the artists and events of the era. I've a lot of catching up to do... Time it was, and what a time it was, it was A time of innocence, a time of confidences Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you So sang Simon and Garfunkel in Bookends. It’s a time I will never know, but which I adore reliving through someone else’s memories. And now I know the way I feel when listening to “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” is the same spirit which inspired the song: longing, tenderness, hope, innocence and love. All the best parts of a generation which lost so much to the worst parts: addiction, cynicism and simply growing old. Remember what we've said and done and felt About each other Oh babe, have mercy Don't let the past remind us of What we are not now I am not dreamin' I am yours, you are mine You are what you are You make it hard

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Incredible insight into the musicians she has known and her music.

  5. 4 out of 5

    martha Boyle

    This was excellent-IF you love the folk music scene and love to read about the greats of the 1960s and 70s, as I do. Judy Collins knew everyone from Phil Ochs to (of course) Stephen Stills to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, all the while struggling with her personal demons of alcoholism and bulimia and her son's drug addiction. I’d like to add for those who felt she didn’t delve deep enough into her interior life and her son’s suicide, this is not her first or only book. Yes, she writes many stories he This was excellent-IF you love the folk music scene and love to read about the greats of the 1960s and 70s, as I do. Judy Collins knew everyone from Phil Ochs to (of course) Stephen Stills to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, all the while struggling with her personal demons of alcoholism and bulimia and her son's drug addiction. I’d like to add for those who felt she didn’t delve deep enough into her interior life and her son’s suicide, this is not her first or only book. Yes, she writes many stories here about those who have taught her or influenced her and many are very famous but let’s not forget that This one is subtitled My Life In MUSIC.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Brown

    Like so many others Judy Collins' music became the soundtrack to important moments in my young life. Her taste was superb and she introduced me to the work of other talented songwriters whose songs I performed years later during my own singing and songwriting career. I honored her honesty in describing her life, knowing that there would be small-minded people who would read her story and judge, without having any clue what it was like to live and perform back in those days. I remember how incredi Like so many others Judy Collins' music became the soundtrack to important moments in my young life. Her taste was superb and she introduced me to the work of other talented songwriters whose songs I performed years later during my own singing and songwriting career. I honored her honesty in describing her life, knowing that there would be small-minded people who would read her story and judge, without having any clue what it was like to live and perform back in those days. I remember how incredibly hard it was to be a solo woman singer performing in the late '70s and what I came up against every night when I sang in public. To do that, as she did, back in the late '50s and early 60s, at a much younger age, demanded guts and courage. That she survived that life is a huge tribute to the strength of her character. Hats off to her and she will always have my gratitude for the heart-touching music that filled the world with beauty in our youth--at a time when the world was so difficult for all creative, independent, young women to function in. What keeps me from being more enthusiastic about this book is that I felt she pulled her punch with the actual story she told. She shares with us her downward alcoholic slide but keeps from the reader what it took to recover from it. She pretty much just says, "And then I stopped drinking" and leaves it at that. I felt very engaged reading the first half of the book, because she took the time to bring her world and her personality alive for us, but in the later part of the book I felt as if she shut the reader out. She has every right to her privacy, but when writing a memoir the bounds should be clearly set at the start so that our expectations match what is in the story. Collns raised an expectation she didn't fulfill by harping so continually on her alcoholism. That made me expect, and indeed NEED, insight into the crisis/resolution that changed the direction of her life. But it wasn't there. And because we don't learn anything about what it took Judy Blue Eyes to break out of the trap she had built for herself, the story is fundamentally unsatisfying. Unlike some other reviewers, I thought her writing was quite good for the first half. But my guess is that at a certain point in the writing process she reached material that she didn't really want to share with readers and narrative degenerated into discography. I have zero right to know her personal thoughts, and at times while reading her memoir I wondered why she was telling me as much as she did, since I and the thousands of others who read this story are complete strangers. But because she touched us so with her music, we feel that we know her, and in the way of fans, we also feel that she owes us something. So by exposing herself to us in this way she is taking a huge risk. She doesn't owe us a thing. She gave us the music. And she stood up for what was right when she didn't have to, too. But writing memoirs is tricky. They are true stories, but the reader expects them to conform to the forms they are accustomed to from fiction. And, as I'm sure she's noticed, a memoir is a hell of a lot more work than writing a song and far less fun. I'm glad she wrote this one, even if it isn't quite what I wish it might have been.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Listened to this driving around Ontario and back down to Maryland this week. Read by the author, whose voice was part of the soundtrack of my childhood. I was frustrated for the first few chapters that she was reading lyrics instead of singing them. around the seventh chapter she started singing snippets, which made me happy. and I hadn't read the box, so I didn't expect it when it turned out there were five songs at the end, all of which played important parts. The book itself was well told. Sh Listened to this driving around Ontario and back down to Maryland this week. Read by the author, whose voice was part of the soundtrack of my childhood. I was frustrated for the first few chapters that she was reading lyrics instead of singing them. around the seventh chapter she started singing snippets, which made me happy. and I hadn't read the box, so I didn't expect it when it turned out there were five songs at the end, all of which played important parts. The book itself was well told. She must have kept great diaries, because there are some extremely detailed specifics here, even in parts of her life I suspect were a blur. There's a chapter about songwriting that felt very true to me, in a way that made me feel the truth of the rest as well

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Hatton

    In the first chapter there is an account of a Paul Williams gig at the Troubador in April 1968 where Judy Collins is sharing a table with Janis Joplin. Although the two women had only met once before and their musical styles and public personae could hardly be more different, they seemed to instinctively bond that night. At one stage Janis leans over and confides to Judy “One of us in going to make it. And it's not going to be me.” Chillingly prophetic. Of course, Janis only “made it” for anothe In the first chapter there is an account of a Paul Williams gig at the Troubador in April 1968 where Judy Collins is sharing a table with Janis Joplin. Although the two women had only met once before and their musical styles and public personae could hardly be more different, they seemed to instinctively bond that night. At one stage Janis leans over and confides to Judy “One of us in going to make it. And it's not going to be me.” Chillingly prophetic. Of course, Janis only “made it” for another two and a half years. The following years would be no easy ride for Judy either, although she did, at least make it out the other side. Her struggles with alcoholism run like a leitmotif throughout the whole book. Her father Chuck was not only blind, but frequently blind drunk and, for almost 30 years, Judy looked for solace from her frequent woes in a bottle. The book chronicles her musical progress against the turbulent political world of the US in the 1960s and 1970s, alongside her series of doomed relationships: the most famous being with Stephen Stills and Stacey Keach. Overall, an informative, if, at times, rather depressing read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    First I would like to say that this was a book I won via the Goodreads First Reads program - thank you to all involved. I agree with several other reviewers who seemed to feel, at times, like I was reading a list of songs, songwriters and singers. This is an honest account of a life spent, as most of us do, making decisions, mistakes and living the highs and lows of life. The book is written in an easy style, the reader will feel joy and sadness through out the book. I suspect you will get a lot ou First I would like to say that this was a book I won via the Goodreads First Reads program - thank you to all involved. I agree with several other reviewers who seemed to feel, at times, like I was reading a list of songs, songwriters and singers. This is an honest account of a life spent, as most of us do, making decisions, mistakes and living the highs and lows of life. The book is written in an easy style, the reader will feel joy and sadness through out the book. I suspect you will get a lot out of this book if you are a true Judy Collins fan, that being said, I do not want to give the impression I wasted my time reading this book, I enjoyed the book and certainly learnt a few things about the era. Just as an aside, we have the ability with a modern artist to use Youtube and get a feel for the work - I would recommend using youtube to acquaint or reacquaint yourself with Ms Collins work.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Margo

    There was a time when I listened to Judy Collins' records incessantly. Back before reality TV, YouTube and Wikipedia, my favorite artists' lives and loves and addictions were a mystery to me. I had no idea that the girl with the haunting voice was struggling with alcoholism and other problems. I enjoyed this chronicle of the folk era and the 60s & 70s. I still remember the first time I heard Both Sides Now and Suite Judy Blue Eyes. There was a time when I listened to Judy Collins' records incessantly. Back before reality TV, YouTube and Wikipedia, my favorite artists' lives and loves and addictions were a mystery to me. I had no idea that the girl with the haunting voice was struggling with alcoholism and other problems. I enjoyed this chronicle of the folk era and the 60s & 70s. I still remember the first time I heard Both Sides Now and Suite Judy Blue Eyes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Eloquent autobiography by the great folk singer Judy Collins. What was so enjoyable about this book was being ale to use my iPhone to look up and listen to the array of folk, blues, jazz, and rock musicians with whom Judy sang with. Many of them were entirely unknown to me, like Barbara Dane. I have created a playlist that includes these singers, as well as some Judy songs I didn't own. What was heart breaking was to me were the demons that haunted Judy for most of her young life; the main one b Eloquent autobiography by the great folk singer Judy Collins. What was so enjoyable about this book was being ale to use my iPhone to look up and listen to the array of folk, blues, jazz, and rock musicians with whom Judy sang with. Many of them were entirely unknown to me, like Barbara Dane. I have created a playlist that includes these singers, as well as some Judy songs I didn't own. What was heart breaking was to me were the demons that haunted Judy for most of her young life; the main one being alcohol. She fought depression, suicidal thoughts, and the ending of deeply loving relationships because of that demon. Sometimes when I read a biography or autobiography, I end up like the person less than before I read the book. This was not the case with Judy Collins. It felt honest. Judy has been singing to me since I was a young woman. Her album Colors of the Day, They Best of Judy Collins soothed and delighted me during a tumultuous year in college. I will always be grateful to her for "Farewell to Tarwathie". It was the first time I had ever heard the song of the whale. If you read this, I highly recommend you listen to Judy and her friends and lovers. It enriches the experience.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I have been a fan of Judy Collin's music so wanted to read more about her life. She writes a very honest memoir. She writes of her start in music slowly becoming successful. She met a lot of famous musicians. and worked with them. She had married young and had a child at nineteen. she was very honest about her addiction to alcohol and how it runs in her family. She writes of her career that has been decades long. her heartbreaks. A good memoir by a talented singer.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    1/3/12: I feel like Judy Collins' music is in my bones; her songs were the backdrop to my youth, and I can still sing every word of some of her weirdest pieces (Marat/Sade, anyone?). Her amazing voice and her poignant lyrics have endured for me, too; about three years ago, Mike and I heard her sing at the Carlyle in New York, and she hadn't sung but one line before I was crying--which I continued to do throughout her entire set. (Mike says I was sobbing audibly; I like to think I was a bit quiet 1/3/12: I feel like Judy Collins' music is in my bones; her songs were the backdrop to my youth, and I can still sing every word of some of her weirdest pieces (Marat/Sade, anyone?). Her amazing voice and her poignant lyrics have endured for me, too; about three years ago, Mike and I heard her sing at the Carlyle in New York, and she hadn't sung but one line before I was crying--which I continued to do throughout her entire set. (Mike says I was sobbing audibly; I like to think I was a bit quieter than that.) So I was excited to read Sweet Judy Blue Eyes, to find out more about the woman behind the music. Unfortunately, while Collins is a most eloquent and creative artist, she is neither a great writer nor an introspective memoirist. I learned much about the artists she learned from and spent time with (lists and lists of them!); about her career as a working artist; about her marriage and divorce and affairs; about her struggles with alcoholism and depression, and about her relationship with her family, her husband and her son. But her treatment of all these topics is superficial at best, as though she is recounting the facts of her life without truly confronting how and why that life unfolded as it did. This is not to say that she doesn't try to delve more deeply, to explain herself. But in trying, she ends up repeating herself instead of developing or analyzing. She says over and over--over the course of many years--that the alcohol was taking over, that she knew she was drinking too much--but repetition wears, and while she clearly wants to keep our attention on her struggle, it's hard to do so when she never examines it any more closely than that. Also, she insists that she loved her son Clark and was distraught when she lost custody of him, but in the next paragraph she goes back to recounting her tour schedule, and even when she did have custody, he'd disappear from the narrative for long stretches of time. I'm sure she loved Clark, but without a bit more introspection or thought on their relationship, her assertions ring a bit hollow. While Collins' writing is serviceable, her tone is gushy and dramatic, which makes the superficiality of the memoir almost worse. She explains a terrible thing happening in one sentence, then plays off the drama of the crisis as it pertains to her, without much more thought or embellishment of the actual event. I was driven to write "WHAT?" in the margin a few times, at the juxtaposition of two statements that didn't seem to follow one from the other. On the other hand, there's a lot to love in this book. Collins' voice is consistent and straightforward, and she is so happy to be alive and still working and loving and just walking around, that it's a joy to read what she has to say. As an historical document, too, the book is interesting, presenting a parade of musicians, people in the music business, and historical figures, and settling them in a context of life as a folk musician in the 60s and 70s. Still, I'm glad that this memoir wasn't too long….

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sally Wessely

    I have always been fascinated by Judy Collins. She is a Colorado girl. When she broke on the music scene in my youth, it was during the heyday of folk music, and I loved folk music. While reading the book, sometimes, I got bogged down with the countless stories about the many musicians that were a part of her life and career. I found myself googling many of those with whom she worked. I then would watch them on YouTube. I even listened to her songs on YouTube while I read the book. I guess you c I have always been fascinated by Judy Collins. She is a Colorado girl. When she broke on the music scene in my youth, it was during the heyday of folk music, and I loved folk music. While reading the book, sometimes, I got bogged down with the countless stories about the many musicians that were a part of her life and career. I found myself googling many of those with whom she worked. I then would watch them on YouTube. I even listened to her songs on YouTube while I read the book. I guess you can say that my reading experience became a multi-media experience. Doing this while reading the book, truly took me back to the sixties and back to my youth. I remembered the times more clearly when I listened to the music. I remembered the role folk music played in my life during those years. Those days seemed fresh and new again rather than a part of my distant memory. Before I read the book, I had no idea how many health problems Judy has struggled with throughout her life. I was not aware of how terrible her alcoholism was as such a young age. I didn't realize she struggled with deep depression and suicidal thoughts through much of her early life. I didn't know how much her life was influenced in a negative way by the "cult" of belief that she allowed herself to be influenced by through her therapists. While her life had many ups and downs, and while she made many decisions that were not in her best interests, I admire Judy Collins even more since I read her book. She is survivor. She is an overcomer. She is timeless. Her music endures after all these decades. She is a legend. After losing her son to suicide, she also became a suicide survivor.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David

    A birthday gift from my wife. I follow Judy Collins on Facebook. Her autobiography has been on my personal to-read list for months. I found the book on the shelf at a high-priced local bookstore in Taos, New Mexico in April, showed it to my wife, and she remembered. She searched two Barnes and Nobles bookstores in Skokie, IL the last week of April; not in stock. Finally, she ordered it on Amazon.com Read the first few pages, and then skip to the Acknowledgements near the back of the book. A frien A birthday gift from my wife. I follow Judy Collins on Facebook. Her autobiography has been on my personal to-read list for months. I found the book on the shelf at a high-priced local bookstore in Taos, New Mexico in April, showed it to my wife, and she remembered. She searched two Barnes and Nobles bookstores in Skokie, IL the last week of April; not in stock. Finally, she ordered it on Amazon.com Read the first few pages, and then skip to the Acknowledgements near the back of the book. A friend of ours gave a presentation at the Silver Bay, MN Public Library this past Monday, regarding her own recently published memoir stories. She told about Acknowledgements, and how important the Agent is. Judy Collin's publishing process likewise gives praise to the Agent who brought the book into print, and to points of sale where we can buy it. Judy starts the stories the way I've been taught to write memoirs. A few photos at the front show how she looked when we first saw her; maybe in 1968, when her first hit single, "Both Sides", reached the top ten; and how she looks now, still the outspoken activist with a great voice. The first few pages are crammed with song titles, performer names, tragedies, political revolution, assassinations - memories revived that are more true than current news accounts. I put the book aside while I finish "Eat, Pray, Love".

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jan C

    Grew up listening to Judy Collins, among others. Maybe one of the reasons I took up guitar as a youth. But, then, when I was a youth everyone took up guitar. Probably dreaming of lives as musicians like Judy Collins, Dylan, Phil Ochs or, finally, the Beatles. She tells of her many loves, especially Stephen Stills, Stacy Keach, and finally her husband, Louis. Her many years in psychiatry, mostly with what I thought were closer analysts who were mainly interested in separating her from her money. T Grew up listening to Judy Collins, among others. Maybe one of the reasons I took up guitar as a youth. But, then, when I was a youth everyone took up guitar. Probably dreaming of lives as musicians like Judy Collins, Dylan, Phil Ochs or, finally, the Beatles. She tells of her many loves, especially Stephen Stills, Stacy Keach, and finally her husband, Louis. Her many years in psychiatry, mostly with what I thought were closer analysts who were mainly interested in separating her from her money. There are people interested in curing their patients and people who want them coming back for more. They seemed to act like she had a lot of problems. She had one problem - drinking. For some of us it is just genetic. It shouldn't have been that hard to figure out. Overall, an interesting book. For the last couple of days reading it, I also listened to her on YouTube. Interesting thing to do was to find the song she was talking about. Song for Duke got me to do that. She happened to talk with him the week he died. I didn't think I knew this song. Wrong! I just apparently didn't know the title.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lucille DeRogatis

    I learned a lot about the dark side of Judy Collins- the alcoholism, drugs, one night stands, etc. Some of the stuff I already knew, like her love affair with Stephen Stills and Suite Judy Blue eyes. I enjoyed reading about her early days in the Village, hanging out with Dylan, Pete Seeger, and all the other young folks trying to become Dylan and Pete Seeger. Also, her appearances at the Newport Folk Festival. I attended the festival back in the mid to late sixties and can attest to the vibe tha I learned a lot about the dark side of Judy Collins- the alcoholism, drugs, one night stands, etc. Some of the stuff I already knew, like her love affair with Stephen Stills and Suite Judy Blue eyes. I enjoyed reading about her early days in the Village, hanging out with Dylan, Pete Seeger, and all the other young folks trying to become Dylan and Pete Seeger. Also, her appearances at the Newport Folk Festival. I attended the festival back in the mid to late sixties and can attest to the vibe that existed at that time. The book was a fast read, not one of those heavy autobiographies where every life situation is heavy with meaning. I enjoyed it. It brought me back to the happier days of the sixties music scene and to the people that made it so.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Wow. I know she's written a couple biographies, but this one focuses on the music in her life. It was fascinating to hear how the albums came together, albums I have memorized listening to them so many times even though most of my favorites were all recorded before I was born. It's amazing she recorded many of them snockered...and it's amazing how--um, free she was with her favours. It was fantastic to hear her read it & the songs included at the end made me cry after hearing the stories behind t Wow. I know she's written a couple biographies, but this one focuses on the music in her life. It was fascinating to hear how the albums came together, albums I have memorized listening to them so many times even though most of my favorites were all recorded before I was born. It's amazing she recorded many of them snockered...and it's amazing how--um, free she was with her favours. It was fantastic to hear her read it & the songs included at the end made me cry after hearing the stories behind them (some of which I already knew). Can't wait to see her in concert again from the front row (again) next month.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paulah

    Liked the first few chapters, but it's getting boring going from club to club, concert to concert. I'm amazed at how easy it was for her to give up her baby to go on the road. I'll get back to this book again, eventually, but have walked away for more compelling reads. Finally finished it and all I can say is, I liked her better when I knew less about her. I applaud her honesty and courage (finally!) when facing her demons, but she's not someone I would choose to work with or invite to my book c Liked the first few chapters, but it's getting boring going from club to club, concert to concert. I'm amazed at how easy it was for her to give up her baby to go on the road. I'll get back to this book again, eventually, but have walked away for more compelling reads. Finally finished it and all I can say is, I liked her better when I knew less about her. I applaud her honesty and courage (finally!) when facing her demons, but she's not someone I would choose to work with or invite to my book club.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    A certain lack of balance kept me from loving this one. I wish Judy Collins had spent less time on Stephen Stills. I think her husband of 30 years got about two paragraphs while Stills is featured throughout, perhaps a decision to please fans. Notations like "Around this time I became bulimic and it took me 10 years to overcome that" along with descriptions throughout of her alcoholic life, drinks of choice, etc. The best parts of the book by far were her impressions of Dylan, Baez, and other gr A certain lack of balance kept me from loving this one. I wish Judy Collins had spent less time on Stephen Stills. I think her husband of 30 years got about two paragraphs while Stills is featured throughout, perhaps a decision to please fans. Notations like "Around this time I became bulimic and it took me 10 years to overcome that" along with descriptions throughout of her alcoholic life, drinks of choice, etc. The best parts of the book by far were her impressions of Dylan, Baez, and other great folk singers.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Francie J

    Judy That's the book in a nutshell: she reveals herself, and with great self-awareness. This book took me longer to read than almost any other; I had to stop and Google songs and people -- some long forgotten and some never known. I'm 67, so it brought back so many moments of my life. I honestly think that even if you have absolutely no idea who Judy Collins is, you will enjoy meeting her, and seeing how a generation (well, 1/2 -- there was the 'other side') lived and made the choices they did.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Reighley

    I read an advance of this in preparation for an interview with Ms. Collins. I've not read her other autobiographies and memoirs, so I'm not sure how this one compares (or if there is significant overlap), but as a mouth-breathing music geek I appreciated how much context she created, discussing the contributions and music of her many, many peers (from Phil Ochs to the Staple Singers) throughout this quick and piquant read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tabitha Vohn

    Heartbreaking and Inspirational. I love Judy Collins music. Seriously, I have the vinyls, and they soothe my soul. What a surprise them to discover she's lived such a turbulent life, but ultimately, a triumphant one. As with all memoirs from this time period, I enjoy snooping into the lives of these iconic musicians who revolutionized the industry and the country. Collins recollects it with whimsical beauty and sincerity. Well worth the read!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Herzog

    Hmm, another alcoholic music star memoir. Vaguely interesting as a history of the 60's though how she can possibly recall all she does after all the booze she consumed is questionable. I love her singing, the book? Not so much.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    She writes songs better than a novel, but she lead an interesting life. I love that it was easier for her to mention that she had NOT slept with someone than include all of her lovers.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sunday Dutro

    couldn't finish it. poorly written. it could be so interesting and instead it was boring and blah-blah-blah

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    This was poorly organized, more chronological than memoir, with too much information and unimportant details crammed in.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    I have already read some autobiographical work by Judy Collins. Somewhere in my books collection is her first volume "Trust Your Heart" and I even might have "Singing Lessons" which didn't stop me from reading this title. Not that it brings anything radically different - her life story is now firmly established as a part of public consciousness, part of our collective memory, perhaps even part of the history (in a sense that every piece of puzzle is of great importance to a complete picture) - b I have already read some autobiographical work by Judy Collins. Somewhere in my books collection is her first volume "Trust Your Heart" and I even might have "Singing Lessons" which didn't stop me from reading this title. Not that it brings anything radically different - her life story is now firmly established as a part of public consciousness, part of our collective memory, perhaps even part of the history (in a sense that every piece of puzzle is of great importance to a complete picture) - but although previously told, the story is always slightly different when looked at from different perspective, at various times colors shimmer in a different light. If you are familiar with her music - soothing, comforting, often enchanting - you might be surprised to discover that in 1960s Collins was indeed very far from gentle folkie persona associated with her. Artsy and curious, yes. Making pottery and performing in theatre, check. But she was also an earthy, fun-loving soul on a search of spiritual enlightenment who happened to find her solace and success in music, music that completely changed her life, lifted her up from anonymity and carried her trough decades in cutthroat business. Collins doesn't flinch from some less attractive truths about herself back than - like everybody else, she had her share of nomadic life, bad company and self-destructive tendencies. In her book, she almost gleefully demolishes the gentle folkie image audiences associated with her. There is a unforgettable scene where Janis Joplin tells her "“You know,” she said, “one of us is going to make it. And it’s not going to be me.” Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and the whole myriad of rock aristocracy make their entrances and exits trough the pages of the book and still this is not just a name dropping - Collins was there and she is a witness of these times. There is a very important sentence right at the beginning of this book, in fact its right here before the first chapter: "In all cases, it is my memory of an event that supersedes the memories of other participants who might have been at the same party. There are no accidents in memory, for memory has its own reasons and its own logic. What I remember is what happened to me as I best recall it." This, in my opinion is the key to this book. It is not about Grammy awards, Billboard Hot 100, album sales or even relationships, no matter how much these things mattered at the time. Collins really happened to be the right person at the right time to witness social atmosphere and immense changes of 1960s and was brave enough to join the gang even when it meant jail, prosecution or (like in her case) being gagged in a court, where she defiantly sang "where have all the flowers gone?" to outraged judge. This is much, much more than mellow, incense burning, nature loving, whales duetting folkie who eventually outgrows the genre and reinvents herself as artsy pop singer - Collins has a story to tell and at this stage of her life, age and earned wisdom to look back at certain moments with a wistful regret. She remembers idyllic times in mountains of Colorado where she spend some dreamy times as a young woman with her first husband and baby son "I always look, and I always wonder how our lives would have turned out if we had stayed in those glorious mountains where my heart still yearns to be." But music beckoned and nothing was ever the same, even if those first years might have been frustrating - but joy was always there, a sense of humor, a sense of camaraderie, sometimes booze (Collins explains her alcoholism as genetic tendency to addiction) and sometimes, real love. There is a beautiful black and white picture taken on some airport in 1968, with young and glowing Stephen Stills and Judy Collins looking like happiest couple in the world. It is a really poignant picture, a frozen moment in time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    As a baby boomer I enjoyed reading about the music scene of the 60's, taking a walk down memory lane. I enjoyed hearing about the musicians, the writers, and so many behind-the-scenes people that made the music happen. I found myself pulling up youtube clips of the music and thinking that maybe I'd like to finally make a playlist, for me. Judy gives a glimpse into her family life-- her celebrity father who lost his sight at an early age growing up in rural Idaho, her marriages and romances, her s As a baby boomer I enjoyed reading about the music scene of the 60's, taking a walk down memory lane. I enjoyed hearing about the musicians, the writers, and so many behind-the-scenes people that made the music happen. I found myself pulling up youtube clips of the music and thinking that maybe I'd like to finally make a playlist, for me. Judy gives a glimpse into her family life-- her celebrity father who lost his sight at an early age growing up in rural Idaho, her marriages and romances, her son. She tells of her journey into the music scene and gives a chronological blow-by-blow account of the making of the first dozen or so of her thirty-eight albums. The connecting thread throughout her story is her alcoholism, starting at age fifteen and culminating at age thirty when she knew it was killing her. She had spent over a dozen years in expensive therapy where in she was assured when her problems were found and dealt with her drinking would be cured. Not only that, but she was also steered away from long-term relationships and especially family ties. This story comprises over three hundred pages, leaving less than fifteen pages to summarize the ensuing three decades. Ultimately she found a care provider who steered her to a clinic that sobered her up and she has been alcohol-free the remainder of her life. She shares other addictions as well, including smoking and bulimia. She says the most insidious of these is the eating disorder. Her music training began with classical music, which she abandoned in her teens for folk music. She did not receive voice training until quite late in her rising career. She was referred to Max Margulis who, as it turns out was her next door neighbor and who at first refused to take her on. Because I have a daughter who has had some voice training I include a few paragraphs from this section. "If you just stay faithful to what we are doing," he told me that day and for all the days that came, "it will change your entire life. Singing and the study of the voice is the most complete therapy there is, because it engages the lungs, the brain, the body, the soul, and the spirit." Throughout my years with Max, he would emphasize two principles: "Clarity and phrasing are the secret." I endured the fight to get beyond the break in the voice, which all singers have and which the bel canto technique addresses. Bel canto, Max told me, is the Italian vocal style that includes a perfect legato line throughout the range of the voice, from top to bottom, and the use of a shimmering tone in the higher registers but without noticeable vibrato. In bel canto, Max would say, the voice should always be flexible, clear, and unencumbered by shouted phrases or harshness of tone. Of course, this sounds deceptively simple. Transforming a rough, uneven voice that was 'natural' but had great flaws took more than three years. I might get over the break between the upper and lower registers easily one week but at the next lesson be unable to do so. ... ... But I spent a few hours a week for the next thirty-two years of my life in Max's living room, learning from an eccentric, enormously intelligent man who would teach me everything about singing with the whole voice. I went in with a voice that was breaking up, hoarse on a regular basis, full of dark tones and compromised clarity. And then one day a few years after I first walked in that door, just like that, I sang the 'oh' and the 'ah' in a seamless ribbon of tone from top to bottom, no break, no cloud, and no clutter. Just music."

  30. 5 out of 5

    John

    Not unlike her music, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music by Judy Collins, contains beauty, poetry, sorrow, nostalgia, reflection, and hope. For many of us who experienced the turbulent sixties this book may feel like a walk down memory lane, but that walk is in the blue eyes of Judy Collins. How many of us were touched by her music in those days, even to the point of using one of her songs to help us through a life changing event such as naming a child (Suzanne), or helping to end a broken r Not unlike her music, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music by Judy Collins, contains beauty, poetry, sorrow, nostalgia, reflection, and hope. For many of us who experienced the turbulent sixties this book may feel like a walk down memory lane, but that walk is in the blue eyes of Judy Collins. How many of us were touched by her music in those days, even to the point of using one of her songs to help us through a life changing event such as naming a child (Suzanne), or helping to end a broken relationship (Send in the Clowns)? Now to hear her story in such a poignant manner is nothing but revelatory. Controversially, many readers may disagree with Ms. Collins political opinions, but that retelling only makes her more personable in this touching memoir. The book is not preachy; it simply tells the reader how she felt at certain times of her life, including the historical events, the political functions, her trials and tragedies, her love affairs, her addictions, and how she maintained some semblance and sanity with her music. I may not have agreed with all her political viewpoints, but I most certainly respected her for her motivations, and, in my opinion, her narrative validated her, even more so, as a child of the sixties. I, for one, felt the book was beautifully and poignantly written. Structurally, the book has no distracting errors, and was professionally edited. In addition, it is so well written that it is hard to put down. For anyone who wants to re-experience or learn more about the years of the sixties and seventies, this poetic and not to be forgotten memoir reveals that time like a door opening onto a field of flowers.

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